Census sees rise of foreign-born population on LI
Thirteen of Long Island's hamlets and villages have a foreign-born population of at least 20 percent, with most increasing since 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's latest estimates for 2006-2008 out Tuesday.
In 10 of those localities, 10 percent or more of the population are not U.S. citizens, a Newsday analysis showed.
The figures don't surprise Christopher Niedt, academic director of Hofstra University's National Center for Suburban Studies. "More and more, we're seeing new immigrants bypass the cities, which were traditional entry points, and arrive in the suburbs," he said.
Seth Forman, chief planner for the Long Island Regional Planning Council, said, "The challenge for Long Island . . . is to integrate more foreign-born people," referring to increasing citizenship of foreign-born people.
"We've done a great job of doing it for the older, mostly European immigrants in places like Long Beach, Lindenhurst, Oceanside or Dix Hills, even. We should hope that in places like Hempstead Village and Elmont, Brentwood and Central Islip that we're going to see that number of noncitizens drop below 10 percent of the population."
Forman added the 20 percent foreign-born population threshold was an important marker for assessing how well residents are being "integrated into American institutions. . . . Once you're in the 20 percent to 30 percent range, that [lack of assimilation] becomes an issue."
The census data released Tuesday provided three-year estimates on various characteristics for communities with populations ranging from 20,000 to 65,000.
The 13 communities - out of 43 that met the population range - with foreign-born populations of 20 percent or more are: Baldwin, 28.5 percent; Brentwood, 39.2 percent; Central Islip, 35.1 percent; Copiague, 26.4 percent; Elmont, 41.8 percent; Franklin Square, 20.8 percent; Freeport, 34.4 percent; Glen Cove, 25.5 percent; Hempstead Village, 40.1 percent; Hicksville, 24.9 percent; Huntington Station, 24.4 percent; Uniondale, 36.3 percent; and Valley Stream, 32.5 percent.
Douglas Thomas, special counsel to Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick, said he thinks the census estimate "is probably a lowball figure" for the village, noting many immigrants flock to majority-minority communities like Freeport where they "might blend in well."
With the 2010 census approaching, Thomas said he feared the village's immigrant population would be undercounted. "If they don't get counted, we don't get our fair share of the appropriations pie we need to service the entire community."